Similar to many 30-year-olds, the Idyllwild Race Committee needs an infusion. No, not necessarily money, but enthusiastic members willing to see that the June race continues and to expand a 30-year Idyllwild institution.
The race was first run as a benefit to the Idyllwild School physical education program in the early 1980s; but the first locally organized 10-kilometer run preceded the fundraiser by several years.
Several fitness-oriented parents, including Kent and Jana Steele, Dave Pelham and Krieg Campbell, decided their jogs and running might be an opportunity to raise needed money for the local school’s physical education program.
Fellow runner Holly Guntermann helped lead them in that direction since she was the school’s PE teacher. Over the years, proceeds from races have grown from a few hundred dollars to now approaching $4,000. Race proceeds have grown with the increasing number of runners, but also because Kate Sirkin initiated the idea to seek race sponsors. Before her action, much of the event money was needed to defray race expenses. Thanks to Sirkin, the school’s PE program has been a big beneficiary.
With this money, the school has been able to provide the climbing wall in the gymnasium, real grass on the playing fields before artificial grass replaced it, the scoreboard in the gym, the original backstop for the softball field, treadmills, elliptical equipment and an assortment of basketballs, soccer balls, and other basic PE equipment, according to Guntermann and current PE teacher Darren McKay.
In the past year, many of the current committee members have resigned or planned to reduce their involvement, which necessitates the “help wanted” call from the committee.
But this is not the first time a new generation of committee members has been recruited. In the late 1990s, several current members, such as Anne Erler, Sirkin and others, assumed the reins to guide the race into the 21st century. Now there, another generation is being sought to take on the responsibilities of organizing the race.
The race has grown from a few local runners to nearly 400 in the past several years. The logistics, from marking the course to selecting the color of the race T-shirt, still must be done each year.
Growing the race is not an unintended consequence, according to several former members. More runners meant more help for the school, but just as important, the race attracts people to Idyllwild. Nearly 60 percent of the participants are from off the Hill. McKay wants help to increase the number of runners and walkers.
Guntermann said, “It’s our chance to pay back the local businesses who give so much to the town all year.”
Interested in joining the Idyllwild Race Committee? Call Idyllwild School Physical Education teacher Darren McKay, committee chair, or school Principal Matt Kraemer, committee vice chair, at 951-659-0750.
Past and current members stress how much fun it is producing the race. Unlike many organizations, the committee does not meet year round. The initial meeting is in January and the final meeting in June following the race, which is held on the first Saturday of June. Most of the work is done on one’s own time, Erler said. During her 17 years as a committee member, she helped with fundraising, preparing address lists for announcements, ensuring the race results are public and many other tasks, including having husband, Steve, mark the course.
As the committee membership has turned over, the race itself has changed. The popular Kids Fun Run only started in 1997, according to Erler. For years the race was truly 5k and 10k runs. While walkers joined the competitors, they were not formally recognized until the 30th anniversary race in 2010. At that post-race pancake breakfast, awards were given to the 5k walkers also.
References to past members always begin with “so much fun” or “lovely people.” But race surprises also can occur. For example, Guntermann remembers the year when snow began falling during the race to keep the runners cool until they finished. “Who would think it would snow in early June?” she exclaimed.
Another benefit of the race is the introduction of running to local students. Idyllwild’s Jayden Emerson runs cross country for Hemet High School and will be in the California state finals this coming weekend. Nearly half of the cross-country team started running at Idyllwild School, which has its own middle school running team now.
Coach Lee Arnson also was one of the original race committee members. Arnson said, “I have been involved with the Idyllwild Race for the last 30 years in some form. I started out as the ‘rabbit’ on the old course, which was a little confusing for the runners.”
Like Arnson, many members were attracted to the committee after running the race for several years. Bill Whitman, Pelham, Erler, Guntermann, and Sirkin were or are runners who help produce this Idyllwild event every year.
“I’ve enjoyed it. You get to work with really good people,” said Whitman.
“I’ve enjoyed it very much, it’s the best committee,” agreed Sirkin.
They also agreed that discord can occur, but only once a year, and for a limited moment. That happens at the meeting to choose the color of the race T-shirt. Otherwise, committee members always complete a memorable and heart-felt race.